Tell us a little about yourself!
My name is Atwiine Sabrina and I am 18 years old. I am from Uganda in the Kabale district and a 2017/18 Student Ambassador. I participated in Technovation in 2017 as part of a team called 3 Girls Making it Up. It was not until one of my school’s alumni came to my school that I got introduced to Technovation. She lived in the city and went to multiple Technovation events and thought it would be a good thing for her old school to participate.
What was one challenge you faced when you participated in Technovation. How did you overcome it?
2017 being the first year I participated, I knew nothing about technology but I had the passion to learn. Therefore, not knowing anything couldn’t bring me down. I knew what I wanted! Also, in my community, no one was interested in technology and they considered it a boy’s thing, which was a big challenge, but I was determined.
I was on a team of three and none of us had heard of, or used, MIT App Inventor before and that was challenging as well. My teammates almost gave up, but I persuaded them to keep going. I suggested to first focus on the paper prototyping and then try MIT app inventor.
How did you overcome the challenge of being unfamiliar with MIT App Inventor?
I dedicated a lot of time trying out the different MIT App Inventor features to understand how they worked and what they could do. I used tutorials to teach myself how to use it. Everytime I learned something new through a tutorial, I would immediately try it out to see how it worked. It was hard but fun at the same time. We played with every feature in MIT App Inventor until we got what we wanted. We developed an app called Harmonious – it was meant to enhance peace and harmony in our community.
What would be your advice to girls facing the same challenge?
- Self-confidence: To be successful [..], you have to be motivated. Do you believe you can make it? “Yes I can’’ is what I told myself and it kept me going through the whole season.
- Passion: Do you love what you are doing? I developed a real passion for my project and I wanted to make it the best, which made me want to learn even more about coding.
- Learn to try and discover: You shouldn’t be afraid to try new things. Before you try something new, it will always seem harder than once you give it a chance and apply yourself. Be a discoverer!
Don’t wait for someone to help you, get the confidence and get to work! Use tutorials.
What made you decide to become a Technovation student ambassador?
There are many reasons I decided to become a student ambassador but mostly I wanted girls in my community to have access to the world of technology.
First of all, when I participated in Technovation, I didn’t have anyone to help guide me within my community, which created its own set of challenges. After that, I wanted to make sure that girls in my community were aware of the program and feel supported.
Secondly, in my region, only the schools in the main city usually participate in Technovation and I wanted to change that. Becoming a Technovation student ambassador allows me to reach out to more girls.
Finally, I am someone who believes that “what a man can do, a woman can do”. However, in my community some people still think that men and women are not equal. Technology is considered to be for boys. This really compelled me to become a student ambassador and bring Technovation to the girls in my area.
What have you been able to accomplish in that role?
I have introduced Technovation in twelve schools in my community and encouraged them to create Technovation clubs in their schools. I work with each club and help arrange the meetings with the girls. At the moment I have recruited more than one hundred girls, and I have worked with multiple organizations on the ground to recruit mentors from tech fields to help the girls.
What advice would you give someone who was interested in starting technovation or another coding program but felt intimidated.
You need the ability to believe that you can make it no matter what. The important thing is to stay focused no matter the hardships along the way, things don’t always go smoothly but if you have determination, you can overcome anything.
For example, when I applied to be a Student Ambassador, one of my friends pointed out that it would be hard to fulfill my duties as I don’t have a phone or a computer and my school doesn’t have internet access. Everything she said was true, but so what? I am a changemaker, and I will not give up no matter what.
Anybody can be anything they want to be as long as they are determined, regardless of economic, physical, or geographical factors.
I am very thankful for the people who introduced me to Technovation, it has changed my life. I now think outside the box, and I plan on leaving a mark in the field of technology, no matter how long it takes!